dis·​in·​gen·​u·​ous ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce disingenuous (audio)
: lacking in candor
also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating
disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

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A disingenuous remark might contain some superficial truth, but it is delivered with the intent to deceive or to serve some hidden purpose. Its base word ingenuous (derived from a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn") can describe someone who, like a child, is innocent or lacking guile or craftiness. English speakers began frequently joining the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous during the 17th century.

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999
… and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993
… he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993
Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990
Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
Recent Examples on the Web McCarthy agreed to the request but called it disingenuous, asserting that Felsen knew about Boynton’s pending job switch before the sentencing yet didn’t ask the judge to recuse himself. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2023 Some political scientists were outraged, arguing that the statement was disingenuous and aimed to distract from anti-worker sentiment. Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Uncivil obedience tactics can draw immense criticism from the public, who may view such tactics as manipulative or disingenuous. Kristina M. Lee, The Conversation, 10 Aug. 2023 Both commendations are fraudulent, reflecting disingenuous identity politics and genre inaccuracy. Armond White, National Review, 4 Aug. 2023 According to at least one of the right’s loudest anti-trans voices, however, London’s rebranding is seen as a disingenuous, if politically useful, attention ploy. Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone, 15 June 2023 In this piece of cultural criticism for Slate, Carl Wilson pushes back on the implication in these takes: That movies that make a deliberate attempt to elicit tears are cheap, manipulative, or disingenuous. Rachel Dlugatch, Longreads, 18 July 2023 Men in suits at Mattel—led by Will Ferrell’s CEO—make disingenuous speeches about female empowerment; tweens dress Barbie down for wreaking havoc on their self-esteem. Time, 14 July 2023 But instead of being met with celebration for its candor, many criticized the post for coming across as disingenuous and self-centered. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 13 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


dis- + ingenuous entry 1

First Known Use

1655, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655


Dictionary Entries Near disingenuous

Cite this Entry

“Disingenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disingenuous. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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